A Good Night's Sleep

Rachel Lee teaches us how to get the perfect night's sleep

Rachel Lee
17th February 2020
Image: Public Domain Pictures
Being at university, we all know the huge role that sleep has in our lives, whether you have just woken up after a 15-hour nap or you can’t remember the last time you were in your bed.

You sleep better when you are colder. Being too hot overnight can lead to headaches, restlessness, fever and nightmares. Body temperature throughout the day gradually decreases to prepare for bed. Although leaving the window open at uni might lead to no sleep at all from the noise, it’s a good idea to make sure the heating is turned off overnight and you haven’t got a million blankets on top of you. For the same reason, it is better to exercise in the morning than at night, as it is hard to cool and calm down after a gym session just before bed. Having a hot shower before bed actually decreases your overall body temperature and is a good way of making you feel more tired.

There is also a danger of oversleeping which if continuous can lead to constant tiredness and weakened immune system. Often, the idea is that the more sleep you got the night before the better you should feel, and people are confused and worried that they are still tired despite getting 11 hours sleep the night before. Surprisingly, 8-9 hours is all you need to feel the best in the morning. This is taken from Matthew Walker’s book Why We Sleep, which also talks about the idea of pulling all nighters in order to revise for an exam or practice for something you have on the next day.

Deep sleep helps with physical recovery and aspects of memory, learning and, most crucially, leads to feeling refreshed

A lot of ‘deep sleep’ in the night occurs only an hour or so after we go to bed and is less likely to occur at all the later in the night you go to sleep. This deep sleep helps with physical recovery and aspects of memory, learning and, most crucially, leads to feeling refreshed. The deep sleep lost in staying up late can be more harmful to your memory of facts and revision notes than if you were to revise less and go to sleep earlier. Not only this but your hand-eye coordination, social responses and ability to reason all decrease considerably with less than 8 hours of sleep.

Melatonin is produced by your body throughout the day, making sure you are tired by the time you usually sleep. This coincides with darkness and night time, making our bodies anticipate sleep. Everyone has heard that phones and laptops are probably the worst contributors to a bad night’s sleep, because the light and activity acts as fake daylight.

While you are on your phone try not to make it the only source of brightness in the room

It is unlikely to not use your phone late at night, but you can use blue light filter and low brightness to minimise the effects. While you are on your phone try not to make it the only source of brightness in the room, and instead turn on a small lamp or fairy lights until you go to sleep, otherwise it is like shining a small torch in your face just before you want to sleep, which in any other scenario would be bizarre.

Of course exceptions will be made for nights out and big events, it would be unrealistic to suggest going to sleep by midnight every day, waking up at the same time and not sleeping for more than nine hours ever, but even if you follow this article once in a while, it will bring short and long term benefits that are much needed in university life.

There is so much more that can be said about sleep and I can’t recommend enough both Matthew Walker’s Why We Sleep and Dr Chatterjee’s Four Pillar Plan audiobook , they are really eye opening to misconceptions and the simple everyday things that we can do to help ourselves, and are the source of the main ideas from this article.

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